Each July 4th, we gather our family and friends to celebrate at the beach or at a patriotic themed cookout. Yet, it’s also important to remember and thank the men and women of the United States Military for their services to defend our freedoms and country. After serving, many of these veterans fall on hard times and look to the Massachusetts emergency food system to avoid tough choices between purchasing food and necessities. It is estimated that almost 26,000 Veterans in the Commonwealth depend on the SNAP program.
At least 26% of the households The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) serves have at least one member that has served in the military.
One of GBFB’s many faces of hunger, Tina, is a disabled Air Force Veteran and client of the Fall River Veteran’s Center food pantry, which receives most of its food from GBFB. She is like so many in Eastern Massachusetts who are struggling and can’t afford the food they need to avoid hunger and to stay active and healthy. Tina shared her story with us and GBFB thanks her for her work and dedication.
“I was born and raised here in Fall River, and am a die-hard Bruins fan. Members of my family were in the military, and I wanted to serve. So, since I loved flying planes I entered the Air Force. That’s where I met my husband. We had two daughters, and lived all over. Life was challenging, but good. But injuries forced me to stop working, and a few years back I went through a tough divorce. I needed help, and moved back to Fall River to be near my family. Now, I’m completely disabled, and it is very hard to make ends meet. When I reached out to the Veteran’s Association of Bristol County, I learned about their food pantry and other services.”
“The groceries I get there every month, including fresh produce, really make a difference to my very tight food budget.”
“I’ve also been able to give back by using my degree in programming to help with the Veteran’s Center computers. Lately, I’ve also been volunteering at the food pantry sorting, organizing and distributing food to local Veterans. We’re serving more than 160 men and women every month! It feels good to be around different people and to be helping others.”
“Personally, I could never give back as much as these people have given me, and I would do anything for them. It’s therapeutic. You know, sometimes you give and you can’t see whether you actually help someone. But here at the Veteran’s pantry, you see how you’re helping. People are so happy when they pick-up their bag of groceries. It brings a smile to my face. I’m so grateful.”
These citizens have given so much to our country and community and it’s important that we support them during times of need. This 4th of July, consider helping by providing nutritious food. Every $1 provides enough food for three healthy meals. Together, we can end hunger here.